Local MP Calls For Nationalisation Of South Western Railways

Ruth Cadbury says SWR has 'failed passengers for too long'

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The MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, has joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group on South Western Rail to enable further scrutiny of South Western Rail and the wider rail network in Parliament.

Following the announcement last week by the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, that South Western Rail’s franchise is ‘not sustainable in the long term’, the local MP has called on the Department of Transport to take over the operation of the rail franchise.

She said: ‘‘South Western Rail have failed passengers for too long. This latest announcement is no surprise for those people who’ve had to rely on this service.

"In the last week alone local people who regularly use South Western Rail have told me that the endless number of delays, cancelations and overcrowded trains have caused serious problems for them.

"I know that local residents want this to change.

"That’s why the Government needs to step in and use its powers to take the rail line back into public ownership. We’ve seen the success that that nationally-run lines such as East Coast Mainline have had in the past and we’ve seen failure after failure with private rail companies.

The Government need to put passengers first.’’

Transport Minister Grant Shapps has indicated that the government is considering nationalisation as one of the options for the future of the South Western Railway (SWR) franchise. This would mean that mainline train services through stations such as Putney, Brentford, Wandsworth Town and Chiswick would be taken back into public ownership.

SWR’s latest accounts showed that the train operating company is making substantial losses and the auditors have said there is ‘material uncertainty’ over its operations. SWR reported losses of £136.9million as they wrote off £146million in the value of a contract in the year to March 2019. On an operating basis excluding the write off, the company saw revenues of over one billion pounds and saw passenger growth of 6% with a profit of £7million.

The report concludes, “The directors have concluded that there is a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Since these accounts were published the company has been hit by a prolonged strike by RMT members during December which has impacted costs and revenues.

The Minister said in a written statement to parliament that the franchise which is a joint venture between FirstGroup and the operator of Hong Kong’s public transit system ‘is not sustainable in the long term’ but that a new contract for the operator was also being considered. Although the company has not yet failed to meet its financial commitments, Mr Shapps said that the Department for Transport “must prepare suitable contingency measures”, including handing the routes over to the state-owned operator of last resort.

Rail Union RMT called the Minister’s statement a ‘cop out’ and demanded immediate nationalisation. They claim that the government’s commitment to introducing Driver Only Operation discriminates against the disabled and that railway workers should not be blamed for taking strike action over safety issues.


January 28, 2020


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